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Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #116

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This is the one-hundred and sixteenth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and fifteen. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.

This is ANOTHER special theme week! Each urban legend this week is related to that merry band of mutants, the X-Men!!

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Marvel got rid of the X-Ternals because of threats of litigation by the Highlander folks.

STATUS: False

Blog pal Kelvin asked me this one a LOOOOOOOOOONG time ago (I think late 2005):

Did Apocalypse’s immortal buddies, the X-Ternals, get written out of the X-Men mythos due to the people behind Highlander getting antsy about immortal characters? This is apparently also the reason why Apocalypse himself is no longer immortal, but does the rejuvenation chamber thing.

The X-Ternals first showed up in the pages of Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza’s X-Force, where Cannonball is seemingly mortally wounded.

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Instead, we learn that Cannonabll is actually an X-Ternal, a rare type of mutant who is virtually immortal. Apocalypse was an X-Ternal, as was Selene and a few other characters, such as Crule and Gideon.

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A few years later, the X-Ternals (who has not been brought up much in Nicieza’s time on the book after Liefeld left the title) were quickly brought back and summarily dismissed.

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Selene ended up killing all of them (except Apocalypse, of course) and then stated that Cannonball was not, in fact, an X-Ternal, after all.

It seemed clear as though Marvel was specifically eliminating these characters, and Kelvin’s theory is that the Highlander folks were pressuring Marvel about the characters, as the whole “special group of immortals” is basically Highlander’s entire schtick.

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I asked former X-Editor, Mark Powers, about it, and he said that no, that wasn’t the case, and it was a decision made by the creative team, not editorial, to close a storyline that was a major part of Liefeld’s run on the title, to give the book a fresh start.

Thanks for the question, Kelvin, and thanks for the answer, Mark!

Mark is currently writing GI Joe for Devil’s Due, as long as an upcoming series called Drafted, in case anyone is interested in reading his current comic work!

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29 Comments

Interesting stuff, Brian. I wonder, though, if Lobdell actually told Hama (or editorial) of these plans. Hama’s a class act, so I doubt he went out of his way to mess with Lobdell’s plans.

Hama’s messing up of Penance’s origin was the last straw for me with Generation X. I stopped reading the book after that issue. Hama isn’t a bad writer, but he really misfired on Gen X. The giant invisible magic weasel and random pointless villain team-ups were bad enough, but the Penance debacle was just too much.

It still amazes me that the writers were able to get even a halfway decent story out of Onslaught, considering all it had stacked against it. They went in with no idea who he really was and they ended up having to incorporate and subsequently kill the Avengers and FF. By all rights it should have been a colossal train wreck (kind of like the following year’s Operation Zero Tolerance).

Generation X #40 was my first American comic book, the only issue of the series I ever read.

Emplate = Sylar?

I didn’t read any story starring the Externals, but I did read Uncanny X-Men when Sam was part of the team and liked the idea of him being immortal. It was an obvious rip-off of Highlander, though. Glad I didn’t have the chance to meet the other Externals.

The first mention of Onslaught was one of the stories featured in the first X-book I ever read, an Hebrew translated series. The other story was, I think, from X-Men #42, in which Holocaust wakes up in Avalon.

Err… Maybe I’m just being dense (wouldn’t be the first time), but how could the Highlander people have an outright claim on anything involving immortals? Surely there’s plenty of “prior art,” so to speak?

Originally they weren’t the X-Ternals. They were the Highlords and didn’t become immortal until they were killed, just like the immortals in Highlander.

Who drew that X-Men cover with the Juggernaut on it?

madureira drew that cover.

Damn, i really need to read Generation X backissues

Yeesh! All that X-Men universe stuff from the 90s was so confusing it still makes my head ache when I think about it!

“They went in with no idea who he really was and they ended up having to incorporate and subsequently kill the Avengers and FF. By all rights it should have been a colossal train wreck (kind of like the following year’s Operation Zero Tolerance).”

It’s kinda cool that the x-office let all the books have their “one issue” of creative freedom. Their was probably alot of pressure from other companies doing crazy things and Marvel lagging behind.

Yes-onslaught could have been much worse, since they didn’t know what they were doing…but they came up with direction from artistic freedom. As opposed to O.Z.T. where they had a clear direction and didn’t have the freedom to have any real reprecussions. Marvel needed a “get out of jail” card for Onslaught, Operation Zero Tolerance- filtered out because the writers could not take risks.

And i’m not talking about stupid risks like character death. My greatest memory of the X-Men is #66?? when you see Cyclops, Phoenix, Storm, Wolverine, and Cannonball neutralized/locked up with Bastion standing over Professor Xavier- telling him his dream is over. Underground X-Men is what I live for.

Whatever happened to the St. Croix twins?

Wasn’t there a rumor floating around about the time of the X-Ternals that they only could die when they were decapitated like in “Highlander”?

My god is there some horrible art on most of those covers…

“My god is there some horrible art on most of those covers…”

I can only assume that Marvel’s editorial powers were required to put their eyes in a blind trust during the 90s.

“I can only assume that Marvel’s editorial powers were required to put their eyes in a blind trust during the 90s.”

Ha ha! I think all that crosshatching would blind anybody… :P

Flush it all away

August 17, 2007 at 5:50 pm

Emplate was short for Template? Was it really that hard to include the extra T? In honor of that reasoning, I think we should start calling this Omics Should be Good.

(Oh, and thanks for another great entry! Fridays wouldn’t be Fridays without CBULR. Unless, of course, it’s one of the times when it’s published on Thursday. You get the point.)

In response to #12, I seem to recall that the full idea was that the X-ternals could only be killed if their heads and all four limbs were cut off. Which makes it TOTALLY original, natcherly.

they could only be killed by being stabbed in the heart so the eternal chandra put her heart in a necklace and then storm broke it and such.

Ok, you need to follow up the Onslaught rumour. What you’ve got there sounds good, especially with quotes from Lobdell, but ignores something rather important.

Uncanny #322 wasn’t Onslaught’s first appearence. He debuted in X-Men:Prime (written by Mark Waid IIRC)weeks earlier and attacked Mystique first, not the Juggernaut.

So where did the Prime appearence come from? Was it a late decision after Lobdell intrigued everyone with the idea of Onslaught?

What exactly is the “genetic marrow”. I’ve been wondering that for 13 years now.

Not all the time, of course. Just off and on. It’s not like my entire adult life has been spent on a fruitless quest to learn the meaning of yet another Lobdellism that was meant to be cool-sounding but but was actually utterly meaningless and vaguely annoying.

Really, it hasn’t.

Uncanny #322 wasn’t Onslaught’s first appearence. He debuted in X-Men:Prime (written by Mark Waid IIRC)weeks earlier and attacked Mystique first, not the Juggernaut.

Nope. Mystique was attacked in X-Men Prime (actually written by Lobdell and Nicieza), but we never saw who it was – just someone in the shadows who slashed her across the chest. It may have been rolled into the Onslaught stuff later, but at the time it was just more Claremontian plot-dangling: throw in a mysterious reference with no idea of what it’s going to mean, and it’ll be there when you need it later.

“My god is there some horrible art on most of those covers… ”

They hurt my eyes just looking at them.

To draw an analogy, Liefeld’s approach to “art” is akin to a lousy rock band that tries to compensate for its lack of playing ability by playing really, really loud. Sadly, he started a trend.

Speaking of the Hellions, I have a question : were the original Hrellions intended by Chris Claremeont as a reverse opposite of the New Mutants ? Or a parallel ? I.E Karma/Empath, Wolfsbane/Catseye, etc..

There are some pretty strong correspondences between the Hellions and the New Mutants (Wolfsbane/Catseye and Jetstream/Cannonball in particular), but there are some that don’t match up as well (Roulette and Magma, for example). Karma wasn’t on the team when the Hellions first appeared; Empath and Tarot combined sort of approximate Mirage’s powers. Since the Hellions were created as rivals, it made sense for Claremont to give them powers that would make them a reasonable challenge to the New Mutants (an animalistic character, a strong guy, a flier, a mentalist and a couple of wild cards). He could well have had something more in mind for all I know, though.

I do think that Emplate was revealed as Monet’s brother during the original run.

On an unrelated note, does anyone know if that “Joe Shuster becoming a delivery boy at 50 and sending packages to DC offices in rags” story is true? I hear hushed whispers, etc. about it, thought I’d ask.

It’s too bad the whole Generation X thing got so mixed up. The Lobdell/Bachalo run on Generation X was one of my favorite series as a kid (I’m still trying to collect them all, rummaging through back issue bins), and that original origin for Penance sounds awesome.

Yeah, Hama’s writing and the god awful origin of M made me stop reading Gen X. Lobdell’s origins for both characters sound much better – esp keeping her really be the 2 twins. I loved the few times she got autistic and went into a trance like state. For me, it made her really stand out and seem special.

They were the Externals, not the X-Ternals. The X-Ternals was Gambit’s AoA team.

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